Updated: Mar 15
It only takes an academically inclined individual to be a tutor, but it takes an empathetic, intelligent, and passionate person to be a mentor. The debate between tutors vs. mentors is not battled eloquently enough. Yes, a tutor can help a student in a multitude of subjects (typically separate subject areas), but a mentor, while encouraging certain social & emotional aspects, can also guide a student academically so they may reach their highest potential. If a student could reach their goals solely through academic aid, then a tutor would be acceptable. Fortunately, The EPIC Foundation recognizes that students can be considered full-fledged young adults who need and deserve more than just tutoring. That is why it is an important focus area of theirs to be mentors to students while also supporting them academically in subject areas like math, science, English, and more.
The EPIC Foundation (EPIC) fully recognizes the responsibility of taking a child from cradle to career. They invest in students’ lives, then organically get involved by mentoring them towards their academic success which transitions into their future career path.
EPIC’s very first focus area is that it connects students to scholarships. Isaiah Oliver-Ingraham was one of their students whose mother reached out to EPIC for the sole purpose of finding a scholarship to help pay for tutoring. After a connection was formed with one of EPIC’s volunteers, Isaiah didn’t need one single day of tutoring! He had the academic ability he needed for success, but simply lacked motivation and insight. He simply needed someone to care. While his family, particularly his single mother, was active in his life, it took an outsider showing interest in his future to propel his motivation towards taking action. This is where tutoring companies tend to be limited as to their job descriptions typically focus on academics, not the social aspects of a student’s life which is where mentors can play an essential role.
It is no secret that hiring a tutor is boldly expensive and therefore, the tutoring industry is thriving.
Staggering Tutoring Industry Statistics:
The Private Tutoring market in the U.S. is estimated at US$46.9 Billion in the year 2020.
Grand View Research stated: “the global online tutoring services market size was valued at USD 4.81 billion in 2019 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR)of 16.1% from 2020 to 2027.”
Cision PF Newswire found that: “The private tutoring market in the US is set to grow by USD 8.37 billion, progressing at a CAGR of almost 8% during 2021-2025.”
In 2013, 27% of college graduates worked in a field related to their major...has it gotten any better?
Undoubtedly, millions of dollars pour into the tutoring industry, which begs the question: “Why is there such a need for tutors and academic support?” Certain students are constantly competing with each other to be the best so that they can get into a reputable college. They are guided towards going to a 4-year university which requires impressive grades and test scores. That is why parents find a tutor: to help their children with specific subjects they struggle with and heighten their standardized test scores. A tutor’s job description focuses on compartmentalized, academic support. The key issue here is that students might not know what they want to do career-wise or in their adult lives ahead in general so there’s a high likelihood they might be receiving tutoring in subjects they will not need (Example: Trigonometry). They may not even need to attend a 4-year university, but pursue a trade or vocation instead. EPIC’s mentors have deep discussions with their students about what they may be passionate about and expose mentees to other possible career pathways so when they “tutor,” it becomes an intentional action that strengthens a student’s motivation.
How does EPIC make this happen?
First and foremost, the EPIC Foundation does not function within the tutoring industry. A key differentiation is that there is a lack of financial visibility within the said industry. What is known is that the majority of tutoring companies are for-profit models. Alternatively, the EPIC Foundation is a non-profit model whose core values are financial transparency. Students from low-to-moderate income households do not have to pay for mentorship with EPIC. The foundation receives funds from individual donors, major contributors, and corporate partners for scholarships, their various programs, marketing towards general fundraising, and for their prestigious annual Gala. These efforts go towards reaching more children they can mentor towards a successful future.
From mentoring to career pathways, Isaiah is one of EPIC’s prime examples of continued support, which is exclaimed in his testimonial for the EPIC Foundation years after his initial mentoring: "EPIC paid, in full, for me to complete a Certificate in Computer Systems and Information Technology from Sheridan Technical College." This is another example of how EPIC uses its funds to help its students reach their full potential. They are the super solution because at EPIC, they both mentor and tutor students allowing them to get everything needed to find their career path while oftentimes initially providing financial aid as well. Now, low-income families have a solution when they cannot afford to hire a tutor. A mentor, more specifically an Academic Mentor, is a more profound, long-term solution, and even more beneficial for a student compared to what a tutor or tutoring company can offer.
The tutors vs. mentors debate has come to a close and mentors achieved a clear victory. The winners are the students who receive: invested, caring mentors that enlighten them with knowledge of personalized career pathways, potential scholarships, and as a bonus, tutoring too. To join the winning team and become a champion for our students, there are a plethora of ways to get involved!